What Do You Do With Your Pumpkins ?
How do you pick your pumpkin? I pick mine by the shape and size. Shape because we always carve them for decoration first. We carve the day before Halloween and cook them up the day after so the meat is still fresh and good. We like medium to large size to get the best effect of the carving.
Then the day after it is cut up into pieces and cooked. Pies and loaves are baked and the rest of the pumpkin filling is bagged into portions and frozen for another time.
Check out some of these tips…
How to Choose Pumpkins to Carve or Pumpkins for Cooking
The choice between carving pumpkins and cooking pumpkins is actually very practical. When choosing a carving pumpkin, you’re looking for a nice shape and a pumpkin that will last several days, once carved. The choice of a cooking pumpkin is all about taste and texture.
Whatever type of pumpkin you’re looking for, there are some basic guidelines.
- First, your pumpkin should be fully mature when it’s picked .
- Never pick up or carry a pumpkin by its stem. It is not a handle.
- Check the pumpkin well for soft spots and dark bruises. Once a pumpkin starts to rot, it goes downhill pretty quickly. The smallest nick is enough to let infection in.
When to Harvest
- Pumpkins are ready to harvest when the vines start to dry up and the pumpkins turn the expected color. You don’t want to pick your pumpkin too soon.
- Check to make sure the skin has hardened enough so that poking it with your fingernail will not crack it.
- Pumpkins can be left in the field, even after the vines have withered.
Picking a Pumpkin for Carving
- You can carve any type of pumpkin, gourd or squash. A good carving pumpkin should be firm and healthy. Pumpkins with outer shells that feel as hard as a piece of wood are very difficult, and dangerous, to slice into.
- The tall, oblong-shaped varieties tend to be stringier inside, making it difficult to make precise cuts.
- Shape is up to your own taste.
Don’t discount the smaller pumpkins entirely. They’re great for kids to carve and to use as decorations.
White pumpkins, like ‘Lumina’ give a spooky look to your jack-o’-lantern. They can also be painted more easily than orange pumpkins .
Keeping a Carved Pumpkin Fresh
Your jack-o’-lantern will start to dry and shrivel as soon as it is cut and exposed to the air. If you need to carve your pumpkin a few days before you’ll be displaying it, try these tips to keep it fresh longer:
Keep it in a cool spot, out of direct sunlight.
Spray it with an anti-transpirant, like Wilt-Pruf.
Drape the entire pumpkin with a damp towel.
Protect it from animals that might be tempted to take a bite.
Don’t leave it outdoors if there’s a threat of frost.
How to choose pie pumpkins and pumpkins for cooking.
Pumpkins for carving are strictly for show. If you’re going to be using your pumpkins for cooking and baking, you want the sweetest pumpkins you can find. A smooth, creamy texture is important too. And having an outer shell on your pumpkin that doesn’t require a power tool to remove is a nice plus. Here are some tips for picking a great pumpkin for eating.
The smaller varieties are favored for cooking. They have denser flesh with a smooth texture and a higher sugar content.
Pumpkin shells get dull as they age, but the flesh should remain intact and can even get sweeter.
Many cooking varieties help you find them with names like ‘Small Sugar Pumpkin’ or ‘New England Pie Pumpkin’.
There are several new varieties being bred specifically for cooking. Some nice, recent introductions include: ‘Baby Pam’, ‘Autumn Gold’ and ‘Ghost Rider’. The white pumpkin ‘Lumina’ is also rapidly becoming a favorite
You can also use winter squash as a substitute for cooking pumpkins. Butternut squash, in particular, shows up in a lot of old recipes as an alternative. Most commercial canned pumpkin is actually some type of C. maxima squash, like ‘Dickinson Field’.
Crook-necked squash, sometimes called neck pumpkins. Their smooth tan skin is easier to peel than other pumpkins and the orange flesh is flavorful and springless.
The Cinderella or Fairy Tale Pumpkin, ‘Rouge Vif D’Etampes’, is delicious, but very hard to shell.
You can roast and eat the seeds of any pumpkin, They’re delicious too.
Article by : Marie Iannotti – Gardening Expert